Dog, owner attack lifeguard in beach incident

Police: Lifeguard intervenes when dog attempts to attack child

A lifeguard at a Madison park was beaten Saturday afternoon after pepper-spraying a dog that had gone after a small child on a beach, according to a release.

The child’s family was able to grab him before the dog attacked him around 6 p.m., officials said. The 53-year-old lifeguard, Tom, told the dog’s owner he needed to take his dog and leave.

“I intervened. At that point the dog was attracted to me and the owner and dog both approached me and violently,” said Tom, a lifeguard for the city of Madison. News 8’s sister station, WISC-TV is not using Tom’s last name at his request as he is the victim of a crime and expressed concern for his safety.

A city ordinance prohibits dogs on city beaches, even if they are on a leash, according to the release.

Police said the dog’s owner is aware of the ordinance because he has had run-ins with lifeguards after letting his dog loose in Vilas Park in the past.

When the dog started going after the Tom, he pepper-sprayed it, which made the dog’s owner mad, causing him to go after Tom, according to the release. The dog’s owner slammed Tom into rakes hanging on the wall of the beach shelter, and punched and kicked him.

“He knocked me to the ground and started kicking me with his boots and hitting me with his fists and saying he was going to kill me,” Tom said.

Two other lifeguards, a 29-year-old woman and a 20-year-old man, got involved in the altercation, and were eventually able to pull the man off of the lifeguard and convince him to leave the park, officials said.

Police said the man was last seen leaving on his bicycle with his dog running alongside.

The 29-year-old lifeguard was hit in the hip with a rake, and the 53-year-old lifeguard sustained multiple injuries, according to the release.

This is the second time in a month the man and his dog have been involved in a confrontation at Vilas Park beach. On the previous occasion the dog, which was off of its leash, became aggressive with two small children. Lifeguards were called to step in.

“We had repeatedly asked him to leave, and he and the dog both acted aggressively toward us and the children,” Tom said.

During the incident about a month ago the man and his dog left the area without further incident.

The dog’s owner is described as white, 29-35 years old, 5 feet 11 inches tall, weighs 160 pounds with scraggly dark hair and a goatee. The dog is described as a brown German shepherd mix.